Governor Bentley tells Alabamians that the state is broke

Talking prisons, education and taxes, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley got real with Alabamians on Tuesday night. During his annual State of the State address, Bentley said that the state must increase revenues to pull itself out of debt.

Now, as we look to the future, we must take the steps necessary to help get our state out of debt and find secure financial footing. Revenue must increase. There must be growth money in the State’s General Fund.”

120313_robert_bentley_ap_605One of the ways Bentley plans to ease the debt is by closing a tax loophole that allows nearly 60 percent of Alabama Fortune 500 companies to bypass paying income tax.

That sounds like a line pulled directly from President Obama. Continue reading

Bills to follow during the 2015 Alabama Legislative Session

The 2015 Alabama Legislative Session kicks off it’s marathon session tomorrow in Montgomery. Tackling issues such as charter schools to consumer debt, Alabama legislators will have plenty to deal with.

Here are a few issues to keep an eye on as session prepares to start.

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Death by electric chair – Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Not so much according to this bill. SB11 would bring back use of the state’s dormant electric chair. Under current state law, if one is sentenced to the death penalty, they may choose between lethal injection or the electric chair.

According to AL.com, an inmate sentenced to death row hasn’t been executed since 2013 because the state does not have the drugs available.

SB11 would alter that provision. Inmates may still choose their way of death, but if lethal injection is unavailable, the state would put them to death with the electric chair.

Priorities for Republicans, I guess.

Continue reading

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice back for ‘Moore?’

A bill that would increase the “maximum age for election or appointment to judicial office increased to 75” will be introduced when the 2015 Alabama Legislative Session begins on March 3.

In short, the bill would allow for current Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore to run for re-election. As dictated by the state’s constitution, the current age limit for election to a judicial office is 70 years old.

Moore is 68 and was re-elected to the bench in 2012 to a six-year term, almost a full decade after he was removed from office for defying a federal court order.

That order stated that Moore had to remove a two-and-a-half ton Ten Commandments monument that he installed soon after his first election. He defied the order and was promptly removed from office.

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore

Moore went nine years without the title of chief justice but assumed the high office again in 2013. Continue reading

Want to get arrested? If you’re black, ride through Hoover

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Photo courtesy of http://www.hooverpd.com

Ok, maybe that headline is a little misleading. If you’re black, you may drive through any town and get arrested, doesn’t have to be Hoover.

But for the sake of this meandering dialogue, USA Today has published a report using data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation that proves, with evidence, that black people are arrested far more than other races.

Surprising? No. Interesting? Ehh, maybe a little.

According to the FBI, in 2012, Hoover’s arrest rate for black people per 1000 residents was 139. Non-blacks was about 33. That’s a fairly striking disparity.

So why now is this important? Frankly, contingent upon the hue of your pigmentation, it isn’t, specifically if you’re black. Getting pulled over – better yet arrested while driving as a black person – is almost a rite of passage in this country.

But because of what’s bubbling in Ferguson, Missouri, there is renewed focus on race, and how police officers treat black people.

Yet the most damning information emerging from this report is that of the over 3,500 police departments that had their arrest records examined, just 173 showed some form of racial equality when it comes to arrests.

Maybe that should be a war cry for a march, yes? “What do we want?” “Racial equality in arrest records!” “When do we want it!?” “Now!”

Not sexy or catchy, but it would certainly quell some fears. But, going back to Hoover, and Ferguson for that matter, these numbers are just that, numbers. We’ve become a nation obsessed with data, so we need a number to prove that our feelings of inequality are justified.

What should accompany this report on arrest disparities is one regarding differences in education, as well as variations in income. That may well explain why so many blacks are arrested compared to whites, errr, non-blacks.

Oh, and the imbedded racism that this country carries.

Besides the report, racism, and the unwritten rule about knowing where one shouldn’t drive while black, it’s likely not the grandest idea to ride through Hoover, at night, with a dark hue.

-JH

Juan Lynum Attempts to Separate Himself From Competition With First Fundraiser

Orlando City Commission candidate Juan Lynum is scheduled to hold his first fundraiser on Thursday night at Draft Global Beer Lounge and Grill.

From the looks of who’s seated on his host committee, Lynum is looking to separate himself from his two opponents, Regina Hill and Cynthia Harris.

While money isn’t an indicator as to who will win any political race, it does give an idea of which candidate may have the most support.

Judging by Lynum’s line-up, a list that includes former Chair of the Downtown Development Board Vernice Atkins-Bradley and Jim Pugh, Chairman of the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, his support is coming from high places.

Lynum should have a decent haul of money once the doors close on his fundraising party Thursday night. That number should run north of a few thousand dollars; enough to give him a pretty good start for an election that’s a little more than a month and a half away.

For Regina Hill and Cynthia Harris, their separate money chests may look small compared to what Lynum may come up with, but if they both spend money wisely, this race may get competitive over the next month.

Hill has raised almost $3,000 and Harris comes in a little under $6,000. They’ve both spent the majority of what they have as of the last reporting period, but again, their monetary success is contingent upon how they spend money leading up to Election Day.

Both Hill and Harris have positioned themselves as advocates for the voiceless. Hill has stated that she wants to build up the people of District five instead of more venues and Harris has a list of goals that include “preserving community heritage and encouraging the local economy.”

-JH

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Race to Watch: House District 30 Republican Primary

Incumbent Karen Castor-Dentel had a successful freshmen term in the Florida House. She was a strong advocate for education in the house as she filed five different bills with an education theme.

Castor-Dentel also raised a lot of money.

As of the latest filing period for the end of December, she raised almost $100,000 with $6,173 coming in January.

But the interesting portion of her race is listed on the other side of the political fence.

Republicans Jonathan Sturgill and Robert Cortes are battling for the chance to take down Castor-Dentel. So far, both men have raised a respectable amount of money; $66,235 for Cortes, $25,000 of that amount coming from a personal loan, and $36,717 for Sturgill.

According to Sturgill’s website, he operates Durable Safety Products, wants to “remove government barriers to private-sector job creation and run local and state governments with a business mentality.”

The narrative for Cortes is a little different as he is a city commissioner in Longwood, Florida. He’s held that post since 2009 and recently received the endorsement of every member of the commission along with Representatives Ritch Workman and former Representative Steve Precourt.

As of right now, it would seem that Cortes has a slight edge. He has more money and is a sitting city commissioner. That doesn’t discount Sturgill’s chances, just makes his hill a little tougher to climb.

Even with all of the money, endorsements and stature; which candidate will have enough to take-on the formidable Castor-Dentel?

She’s a sitting representative, has name recognition, money, and precocity. Castor-Dentel may now be considered a political veteran, and she’s savvy enough to use her experience as a lawmaker against her opponents.

Once the general election comes and she faces Strugill or Cortes, which one can convince voters that Castor-Dentel needs to be replaced after two short years in Tallahassee?

-JH

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Is House District 44 now Eric Eisnaugle’s To Lose?

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Photo courtesy of http://www.myfloridahouse.gov / Eric Eisnaugle

According to filed reports and an article by the Orlando Sentinel, former Republican Representative Eric Eisnaugle has raised over $245,000 for a special election to replace former Representative Steve Precourt in House District 44.

Eisnaugle is a household name for some Floridians as he served in the Florida House from 2008 to 2012 when he was drawn into the same district as Precourt after redistricting. Eisnaugle decided to wait until Precourt faced term limits in 2014 to run, but due to special circumstances, his time arrived sooner than planned.

Precourt decided to step down early to run the Orlando-Orange Country Expressway Authority Board but that decision didn’t work out in his favor.

Eisnaugle is facing former Orange County School Board member Vicky Bell and Democrat Shaun Raja.

While Eisnaugle has name recognition and the quiet backing of the Republican Party, or at least it seems so, Bell and Raja’s chance of winning hinge on their ability to raise money and to differentiate themselves.

For Raja, pointing out Eisnaugle’s voting record in Tallahassee may be a start. Red meat for Dems would include Eisnaugle’s ‘Yea’ vote on “Drug Screening for Temporary Assistance Beneficiaries,” “Permitting Offshore Drilling,” voting ‘Yea’ on certain reproductive amendments and etc…

Bell has to prove why she’s the better Republican over a man who spent four years of his life walking the halls of the Capitol building.

Even with the few dings on his voting record, Eisnaugle should be able to dispose of Raja when the general comes.

The primary election between Eisnaugle and Bell will occur on March 11th with the special election coming on April 8th.

-JH

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